Back into Northern Territory

18/7/14 – Well that was our last night in WA and it was a peaceful one, we enjoyed looking at the stars before retiring to bed.

The last 50 odd Kms of Duncan Road has lots of rocky areas as well as flood dips. We were just saying how the tyres take a beating on this road when we did a tyre on the trailer, first one on the trailer ever. Like all things we like to do them in style and totally threaded the tyre. Mmm don’t think Chris could plug this one, as one tyre specialist said once, I think it’s stuffed. We haven’t seen any road trains on this road but the moment we are trying to change a tyre we get 2. They were both great slowed down and checked we were ok.

Stuffed

Well that was lovely. We stopped at a rest area for morning tea (WA time) and some foreign tourists came and asked us which direction we were heading. They had bought a big bag of fruit and veggies in Katherine but were heading into WA and didn’t know you couldn’t take them in, so we scored them all. So very nice of them, hope they have a wonderful and safe holiday in Australia.

We did a small top up of fuel at Victoria River Roadhouse @ $1.95 L, to get us into Katherine.

We stopped for the night 33km out of Katherine at an old gravel pit up a road off a rest area. Late tea by NT times, have to get used to the new time zone, we then had a fire and a nice peaceful night.

Fire

Duncan Road

17/7/14 – Now we should have paid attention to the name of the rest area we stayed at last night. The words, cliff and lookout should have set off some sort of warning in our heads. But it was getting late, dark and we needed to stop so it didn’t jell. The moment we stepped out of the car it was howling and it did so all night. The canvas did a good job of keeping the cold aspect out but flapped all night so we both slept lousy.

Ngumpan-Cliff-Lockout-4 Ngumpan-Cliff-Lockout-3

Duncan Road starts in Halls Creek and goes around the back of the Bungles up to the Victorian Hwy in Northern Territory. It’s a 441km scenic dirt road, that we were led to believe was good to excellent. Well the first 40km isn’t what we would call a good dirt road. It was corrugated, had wash outs and ruts. Windy and hilly so you can’t get up a lot of speed, it was scenic and has several points of interest along the way that require a short detour. One you do drive by is Old Halls Creek.

Creek-Crossing-Ducan-Road Ruins Ruins-1 Ruins-2 Ruins-3After 40km it opens up and the road improves heaps to a good dirt road but not as scenic.

About 220km along we hit a big patch of bull dust. Not so bad, apart from we had a convoy of 4 caravans coming down our side forcing us to move even further over. We had to stop as we couldn’t see a thing and ute and trailer got covered in dust.

Duncan Road crosses between WA and NT several times. We had lunch in WA, afternoon tea in NT and tea back in WA. We eventually found a spot off the road to stop for the night.

WA – Ngumpan Cliff Lookout

Ngumpan Cliff Lookout – T, B, F, BR, OR, D. 96 km SE of Fitzroy Crossing, or 192 W of Halls Creek. Large area, well off the road. We pulled in pretty late and it was blowing a gale.Table, chairs, shelter, toilets. Area is a bit exposed to the elements. Rating – 3
Ngumpan-Cliff-Lockout-3 Ngumpan-Cliff-Lockout-4 Ngumpan-Cliff-Lockout-2 Ngumpan-Cliff-Lockout-1 Ngumpan-Cliff-Lockout Ngumpan-Cliff-Lockout-5

Horizontal Waterfalls

16/7/14 – Wow wow wow, what an awesome day. We as well as everyone who did the trip loved it. We parked the Ute and trailer at the Derby airport before boarding our 14 seater sea plane. We got to sit in the back by ourselves with plenty of leg room 🙂 it was a little bit bumpier than say a Qantas plane but none of us had an issue. Such amazing views over the mud flats of Derby, really shows how far the tides do go out.

Derby-Airport

Derby-Flats Derby-Flats-1 Derby-Flats-2

Some amazing views with turquoise coloured water. When we flew over the falls it was breathtaking.

Flight-Out

Flight-Out-Falls Falls

We landed at their pontoons where we were giving a bit of a run down on the order on the day.

Landing

First up was feeding and swimming with the sharks which we both did, lots of fun.

Shark Shark-feeding

Next was a boat trip around the area before heading to the falls.

Bay Bay-1 Bay-2 Full-Throttle

We had a few goes through the first and wider falls which was heaps of fun, there were 2 boats.

Horizontal-Falls Horizontal-Falls-1 Horizontal-Falls-2

We had a change of driver who then took us through the narrower, higher and rougher falls, again heaps of fun. We could only do the 2nd narrow falls at this time as later in the day the tide would be too high and not safe to go through.

Horizontal-Falls-5 Horizontal-Falls-4

Horizontal-Falls-6 Horizontal-Falls-7 Horizontal-Falls-8

Then it was back to the pontoon base for Barra and salad which was really yummy. Then it was back in the boats again for another trip to the falls, this time just the first smaller falls. The tide was up a lot more and it was rougher, throwing us around, bouncing up and down. If you didn’t hang on I’m sure you would fall out. They go through several times, we all had big grins on our faces, loved every min of it. Either my chiropractor is going to have his work cut out for him when I get back or everything just got put back in place.

Base Back-to-base

Back to the pontoon, quick drink before boarding our sea plane again. Different route back, a very scenic trip, flying a bit lower so a bit rougher. Awesome views of the Buccaneer Archipelago which has 800 – 1000 rocky islands.

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Back to the Derby airport at 2.30pm. We hopped in the car and headed out of Derby. Stopping at Ngumpan Cliff Lookout for the night.

Broome and Camel Rides

15/7/14 – We had a morning camel ride today with Redsun Camels. Really great friendly bunch of people, they did a great job. We got a camel called Coco, she is the Alfa female of the group, she doesn’t like to be told where to go, doesn’t like to stay in line and apparently pushes in and gets all the food. She had a nice big belly that Chris found rather uncomfortable to have his legs over. He kept saying men aren’t supped to be spread that far apart. By the end we were both a tad sore but had heaps of fun. Our ride was 40 mins and cost $60 each. I (Kate) had been on a camel before but it was Chris’s first time.

Cabel-Beach

Having-a-pat

The camels sit on the ground, the person sitting on the back gets on first, which was Chris. The camels makes lots of noise, guides said it was there way of saying hurry up. Once on you have to lean back, as the camel gets up, the rear comes up first so you get tipped forward. The camels are then led by one of the guides in a line, plod plod, hard to take photos on a camel.

View-on-the-camel

The guides walk along side and tell you all about your camel and answer any questions you have. The camels are wild camels that have been trained, which can take anywhere from 3 months to a year. Each camel wears a specially made custom fit poo bag. Some of the other companies had people walking behind picking up poop from the beach, fun job. At the end of the ride we all got to feed our camels a carrot.

Camel-Ride Shadows

The rest of the day was doing chores, shopping, washing etc. We went back down to the beach around 4pm. The beach had lots of 4×4 parked on the beach spread over a long area. Cable Beach is pretty impressive, it would have been lovely to have had more time and gone for a longer drive on the beach, but we don’t, so maybe next time. We had a ball following camels up and down the beach taking photos.

Blue-Team Red-Sun-Camel-Rides Yellow-Team

Back to camp and pack up the trailer, shower, buy tea and on the road heading to a camp somewhere near Derby ready to do the Horizontal Falls tomorrow. We are squeezing this in so had to leave Broome tonight rather than tomorrow.

Broome

13/7/14 – We are stayed at the Palm Grove Caravan Park. Sites are a pretty good size. We were next to a walk way which means we got foot traffic day and night so that’s not so great. The weather has cleared up but still a bit cool.

Didn’t get much else done today, we did go to Roebuck Bay at Town Beach with everyone else at Broome for the staircase to the moon. It was packed, really packed. Parking was a mess with no one directing traffic. Chris dropped me off after that we lost each other for a while in the dark and neither of us got a photo. Chris ended up with a migraine so we headed back to camp.

14/7/14 – Ute is at the Holden Service Centre getting the back brake fixed so we are busing it into the town area and having a day around town, yeah shops 🙂

We caught the bus and stopped at one of the shopping centres before going into China Town. China Town isn’t full of Chinese shops as one would expect, the name is based on the pearling history of the place. Lots and lots of pearl shops selling expensive pearls, luckily pearls aren’t our thing. For us there was not a lot of shops of interest.

We rang about the Ute, they would call us back, no they didn’t. Chris called again to be told it wasn’t done, the parts hadn’t come in and they wanted to keep the ute until Wed. Ummm no and not happy Jan, they had a week to get the parts. Lousy service, so the ute will have to wait now until we get home.

We went to Cable Beach for sunset, realized we needed to be there earlier to get photos of the camels but we had fun doing what we did.

Cabel-Beach Lining-up-Cabel-Beach

Us-at-Cabel-Beach

Then straight to Roebuck Bay for the staircase to the moon. We got there 1 1/2hr before it and it was still packed. We set ourselves up in a good spot and was crowded in by the end. We took tea and chairs with us. Fun time just didn’t like the crowds, if you knew the area, we are sure you could find another spot away from the crowds.

Staircase-to-the-moon

Beagle Bay to Broome

12/7/14 – Well we had planned to pack up and head up to Cape Leveque for most of the day and then head back down towards Broome stopping at one of the free camps. But it was very overcast this morning and we even had a small shower just enough to dampen the dust down. What we didn’t know was this was the start of a wet day. The Cape Leveque road from Broome was closed a day or so ago due to fires. Tom Price camp ground near Broome was evacuated and closed. So between the fires and rain we decided it was best to go and head south towards Broome.

Start-of-a-wet-day Overcast-day

We called into Beagle Bay to have a look at the Sacred Heart Church. It was built entirely by hand from 1914 – 1917 by the Pallotine monks and local Aboriginals with raw materials from the area, including the beautiful altar decorated with mother-of-pearl shell. The whole church is decorated with shells and mother-of-pearl. It’s in the window frames and inlaid in the floors, mother-of-pearl everywhere. A donation is requested.

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We had heard so many times the Cape Leveque Road to Broome was pretty rough and corrugated. It is indeed corrugated, a wide red sandy road. Made even worst in the rain, which at this point seems to be only towards the Cape, we did have lots of red water being thrown over the ute and trailer. We also passed a burnt out car that was still on fire.

Cape-Leveque-Road Dirty Dirty-Trailer

We called into Quandong Point with the idea of camping there. As lovely as it would be on a nice sunny day it was like we stepped out of the car into Antarctica, It was freezing. A lot of the area had been burnt out and still smelt of smoke. Apparently some areas were still burning. So we had lunch and moved on.

We called into Broome and washed the Ute and trailer, it is sooooo much cleaner. It was starting to rain in Broome, we heard later the Cape Leveque area got a lot more rain, so we were lucky we left when we did. Drove around a bit and got the lay of the land, bought tea and headed out if town to a gravel pit, mmm Blue Metal Motel for the night.

Broome-Gravel-Pit

Middle Lagoon

10/7/14 – Well what an eventful 15km that was. Took us 3 hrs to do the last 15km of the track to the bitumen. We led the way with our new friends Peter and Shirley in their caravan behind us. We had to stop every couple of hundred metres to clear the road from either low branches, dead trees sticking out, other branches etc. Our little fold up pull saw worked a treat. Poor Peter and Shirley were very stressed from the ordeal and were ever so grateful we stayed with them. We parted at the bitumen with a plan to meet up tonight at Middle Lagoon.

Too-many-trees Lots-of-trees

The road into Middle Lagoon isn’t too bad, corrugated in some places and it does have some big ups and downs like a roller coaster in the middle section. We arrived at 12.02 the office closed at 12 until 1pm for lunch, grrr. So we went and had lunch and had a walk around the place. Checked out the Ridge where we had booked our site months ago. The Ridge is right on the edge of a sand hill with uninterrupted views of the Indian Ocean, perfect spot. There was only one spot left, as it turns out at least 4 other people we know about also booked into the Ridge.

Once the office opened we went to check in, despite the fact our booking said the Ridge he had us booked on a site way way back past the office, past the water tanks just about outside the place and well away from the water. At first he didn’t accept that we had booked the ridge (despite the fact I had the paper work to prove it) and tried to past the blame to who knows who, it just wasn’t his fault. In end he apologized and we got to camp on the Ridge in the “No Camping” area, prime location but we had to camp in the middle away from a cabin on one side and a caravan who wanted his space on the other side, great even more space for us. We explained to our caravan neighbours the muck up and why we were setting up in the no camping area, very nice friendly people who invited us over to watch the sunset and have nibbles and drink.

Our-site-on-the-Ridge-1 Our-site-on-the-Ridge

We know of several other people within the five mins we were here that also had their booking stuffed up and now we have a neighbour on the other side who must have also had their booked mucked up. So organization here is not great. There are 2 amenities with 2 showers and 2 toilets in each. We were told the water is only hot around 2.30pm, so we used our own shower. It’s a bush camp, so don’t expect to much. Bit mucked up to start but we are in a great spot so all worked out in the end. After our big day we both feel a little frazzled.

Middle-Lagoon-Rocks

11/07/14 – Well we can’t show you all gorgeous photos of aqua blue water, blue skies or red rocks lit up by the morning sun because it’s overcast. We can hardly make out the horizon out over the water. Toady was a rest day, baking and catching up on bits days. We went for a swim in the arvo and had fish jumping round us.

We nearly got a good sunset but it fizzed in the end. It was still nice to watch it set with Peter and Shirley and have a chat.

Middle-Lagoon-Sunset

Derby

8/7/14 – Big washing day today, all 12 washing machines are in use, clothes line is at a premium. Our clothes were free of red dust but came out with a bucket load of fluff, we had to buy a brush to de-fluff our clothes. Time to catch up with the kids back home and do some posts, photos and wipe everything down and have a bit less dust for a few days. After the best part of 3 weeks on dirt dusty corrugated rough roads it was nice to be on the bitumen for a few days. Never got to see a sunset at the wharf, time difference back in Qld meant we were on the phone at that time.

9/7/14 – We did the tourist things today. Went back to the wharf and walked all the way round. It’s rather weird driving out so far on the mud flats with no water for miles. Tides in Derby are Australia’s highest with tidal variations being as much as 11 metres. It’s a popular spot to watch the sunset and fish. The current wharf was built in 1964.

Wharf

We drove around the back streets of town before heading out to the Boab Prison Tree which is believed to be around 1500 yrs old. It’s fully fenced now and you are not supposed to touch or go into the tree as it is a registered Aboringal site.

Boab-Prison-Tree Boab-Prison-Tree-1 Door

The cattle trough at Myall’s Bore is 120 meters long and was built in 1917. It could water 500 bullocks at a time.

Trough

Time to head out of town for our next leg of the trip. Which was heading towards Middle Lagoon via the back way on the Bedunburra Rd which is 110km from Derby or Broome. Turnoff is not sign posted look for the Kimberley Coloured Stone and a track with a closed gate. Our plan was to either free camp or go into Middle Lagoon early as we weren’t booked in until tomorrow.

Well laid plans go amuck, only it’s not our plans this time. First the road is stated as being less corrugated than the main road from Broome up to Middle Lagoon. It is pretty good road to start, a bit sandy and some bull dust.

Sandy-bog

The further you go into Aboriginal land the road got a lot worst. Narrower, corrugated, sandy like driving over sandhills, the trees were closed in, nearly forming a canopy, a swampy area that we had to take a side track.

Swamp Wet

Some very deep sand which had some side tracks for which we took, we actually said you wouldn’t want to do this road towing a caravan. Now we didn’t have any trouble, and thought the road was actually quite pretty. We saw 3 other vehicles coming the opposite way. One told us there was a caravan ahead of us. We thought he must be talking about a small caravan or a crossover never a full van. Even the Kedron boys might question that.

Well we came across a Supreme 22 ft full van well and truly stuck in deep sand. There was a side track so we took that. The poor people had been previously stuck back further for 1 1/2 hrs when someone helped them out of that. So the Max Traxs came out, the van was struggling on them so we were about to bring the ute around and winch them out when some friendly local Aboriginals came and were able to bring their vehicle in close and snatch strap them out as they weren’t towing. We told the caravan friends we would stay with them until we all got back onto the main road.

Well that proved a little more difficult as we all had to take several side tracks that weren’t an issue for us but the trees were for the van, so we had to clear the way in some places to get the van through. About 15kms from the main road we all pulled on in a clearing for the night as we were losing the light.

Campsite

Our new friends (Peter and Shirley) cooked dinner for us before we all retired early for the night. They were booked into Middle Lagoon for the night, they are sticking with us until we all get there. Their van is 12 mths old and had copped a beating. The awning poles are damaged, external lights have been ripped off several thousand of dollars damaged. They were advised to take this road by someone who worked in a roadhouse and knew the area. Poor people once they recover they will have a great campfire story.

Windjana Gorge

7/7/14 – Despite the close quarters with other campers it wasn’t very noisy, apart for hearing people snoring.

We were up at 5.30am, quick breaky and walking by 6am. We did have a quick look in the info bay and saw no signs of relevance talking about track closures. So off we set, it’s 7km return to the gorge and pretty easy walking, plenty of shade but it is very very dusty. Windjana is know for having heaps of fresh water croc, numbers are in the 80’s. The sun wasn’t up or on the water yet so we were going to keep an eye open on the way back.

The further we went along the more overgrown the track became. There are no signs indicating how far you still have to go. The track was hard to find in places, got narrow and even more overgrown. After about 2.5km we came to this sign saying the last 1km was closed due to erosion from the wet. We went a little bit further and found the word END written out in stones.

Windjana-Gorge-closurer Windjana-Gorge-End

We weren’t real happy that the sign wasn’t back at the start. Turns out in the info booth in a corner was the same sign saying about the last 1km being closed. We and other people missed it because it was not in a real obvious place like on the actual track. Anyway we worked our way back doing some croc hunting as they were starting to come out and sun themselves.

Croc

At one big pond Chris counted 22 fresh water crocs. All up we saw about 30-40 of them. The arvo would be a better time for croc hunting.

Crocs

By this time the cliff walls were also nicely lit by the sun.

Windjan-Gorge Windjana-Gorge-3 Windjana-Gorge-2 Windjana-Gorge-1

Back at camp by morning tea time. Quick cuppa, then packup and then have a shower, using their showers. By this time the place had cleared out, not many had used the showers for a while so one would think there would be plenty of hot water and water pressure. Well it was only a dribble, especially when some one else was having a shower. Still it was nice to have a shower.

We finished the Gibb River Road, yeah.

We-did-it

Headed into Derby, staying at the Kimberley Entrance Caravan Park, got a pretty good site, but still very dusty, hard to get away from the dust here. Staying here for a couple of nights.